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The latest trend in Android user interface modifications is the gesture-based meta-launcher, a way of quickly launching and switching between huge numbers of apps. My personal favorite is still SwipePad, but the current fashion is for Holo-style, scrollable sidebars. Appsi is the latest among these, but differentiates itself with a ton of customization and plugins.

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First of all, the setup process is a lot simpler than similar apps, allowing the user to easily move the activation areas with a more graphical UI, instead of adjusting numbers or sliders. Each hotspot can be expanded with gestures, or more precisely, modified launch gestures - turn the launch movement up or down to bring up a shorter list of favorites, for example. A quick search bar and pop-up recents menu is included.

But the real value in Appsi comes from its wide selection of plugins. The Settings plugin allows you to go directly to any Settings menu, placing it just like an app shortcut. Contacts and Calls do the same for individual contacts and direct-call buttons. SMS and Calendar follow suit. All these extensions can be bound to extra hotspots for a more flexible approach to the system.

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Now here's the downside: the extensions are all first-party, and each one costs around a dollar. As flexible as Appsi is, it would be a lot more so if other developers could join in the fun, a la DashClock. And getting access to the full complement of current functionality costs just over $6, and requires no less than seven installed apps, a bit of a let-down. Still, we'll be keeping an eye on Appsi to see if any of the good ideas presented in the initial app are expanded upon.

Thanks, Timothy Walter!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Firelight

    $6 - really? Wow. SwipePad has a couple of plug-ins, too, but the only one I've added is MoreSpace ($0.99).

    The interface here is very nice but SO not worth the investment with other options out there.

    • Thatguyfromvienna

      It's six bucks.
      I bet most people in the industrialized world spend a lot more on unnecessary stuff every day so why does everybody feel like whining about a few bucks when it's about an app?

      • Firelight

        Because there are less expensive alternatives?

        Glad you can make sweeping assumptions about what us "industrialized folks" like to waste money on. Maybe if more people/countries were more frugal with their spending habits then debt crises across the globe wouldn't be so bloody prevalent.

        • Thatguyfromvienna

          And I'm glad you're making sweeping assumptions whether or not something is worth 6 bucks when there are cheaper (but different) alternatives out there.

      • didibus

        Agreed, apps are so cheap, it's probably one of the segment on products that sell at such an affordable price when it's time to manufacture is so long. In this day and age, we don't even need to pay for future updates and versions, buy once, have forever. Imagine getting a car, and all of it's newer models for free.

        More and more I am starting to buy apps costing closer to 10$, because that's the price of one beer, yet the value I get out of an app is way more.

        I do agree with @Firelight comment though, it's not the customer faults I think if apps are seen as cheap commodity, the devs were the first ones to start giving them out for free or for very little, and they got us used to that model.

        • unhappybirthday

          I agree that apps are undervalued, but you are paying too much for a beer :)

    • Julie

      The $6 are for multiple optional plugins, just as with Swipepad. I'm using the free version with no problems.

  • Bo

    I'll stick with SwipePad. It looks good and works well. And I've already sunk some money into it.

  • http://www.baronsofbullshit.com/ seriosbrad

    My problem with all of these swipe-side-bars is that no matter how I configure it, something always gets in the way of using it efficiently. Things such as the case for my phone on the edge, landscape controls on the edges of games/apps, keyboard number row on the edge (1 and 0).

  • Julie

    Yeah there are paid plugins, but for most people the free functionality is more than enough. I like it over other sidebar/overlay apps since it's quick (I tried Quad Drawer, which takes more than a second to load the app list), and there are both favorites and searching for all of your apps (Swapps doesn't have search, while Swipepad is more for shortcuts and doesn't offer an easily-searchable app list, which is essentially what I was looking for). I also used Conjure before which was a good app search program, but it didn't offer swipe gestures/hotspots either.

  • Dino0702

    SwipePad <3